Commander had a big summer winning the Westerner, Fred Jones and Spangled Jimmy. Which one of those wins was most memorable?
I would have to say the Spangled Jimmy on Derby day. The crowd was big and the excitement was bigger. He raced big, had some pressure and easily overcame it.
Commander then went on to win the BC Premier’s Handicap — how was he on that day?
He was awesome that day.
What impressed me the most was how easy Commander made it look. He broke on top, controlled the race, slowed the pace and when anyone came near him he just increased his lead. His ears were pricked the whole way and he looked very relaxed.
Commander is down as one of the ten pre-entries in the upcoming Breeders Cup Marathon?
Yes he is. The horse has been full of life and energy for a while now. We shipped to Santa Anita last week and he shipped well. We are fortunate he has always been a good shipper. His exercise rider Sean Evans has done a really good job with him and he told me this morning Commander has been a bear and is quite the handful.
Last year’s experience with Commander at the Breeders Cup did not go as planned but you have decided to go again?
His jockey Aaron Gryder convinced me to try the Breeders Cup again. He knows the horse well and I respect his opinion — he knows his stuff.
I don’t like to talk about it (last year’s race) that much but he blew the race in the paddock. He got so worked up and he washed right out. Lesson learned — the key for us this year is to keep he calm before the race. The mile and 3/4 distance isn’t a concern for us — he can go the distance. Aaron feels with the right trip he won’t be beat.
Tell the Alberta race fans more about Commander.
I went to Delaware a few years back to purchase another horse but instead ended up purchasing Commander who finished second in the same race. I was so impressed with him that I came home with him.
Don’t get me wrong - this horse is a handful on the best of days. He thinks he is the boss. He is big and strong and has to have things his own way. I still haven’t figured him out. He loves the lead when he races and simply doesn’t like to be pressured during a race.
Tell me about your relationship with the trainer Troy Taylor.
We have over 50 years together in this industry, not many people can say that. He works hard and is a very good friend. He truly is a gifted horse trainer. He can look at a horse in two minutes and tell you everything you need to know.
When did you realize the fan following Commander has in Edmonton?
You know it didn’t really click in until we were leaving Northlands Park. Jason Teague and I were talking and he was telling me on how popular Commander has become and for that we are very grateful to everyone in Edmonton.